Mormon Lake

Flagstaff, Arizona

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This is a level hike that goes along the shore of Mormon Lake, Arizona’s largest natural lake. This is a great place to view wildlife. Most of the year, Mormon Lake is more a marsh than a lake. When full, after the spring snowmelt, it is the largest “natural” lake in Arizona. Although there is no dam (in contrast with Upper and Lower Lake Mary), humans have still influenced the lake. The area was first settled by Mormons, who started dairy farming here. In the pioneer days, the lake area was never more than a marsh, and the settlers ran cattle on the rich forage. Eventually, the hooves of the cattle compacted the soil and made it less porous, so that the marsh flooded and became a lake in wet years. Today, the lake and its marshes are important havens for wildlife. This hike is best done at sunrise or sunset, which are good times for wildlife viewing. Cottonwood and aspen trees grow here in an unusual association, and there are fine views of the distant San Francisco Mountain.

Mormon Lake Professional Review and Guide

"This is a level hike that goes along the shore of Mormon Lake, Arizona’s largest natural lake. This is a great place to view wildlife. Most of the year, Mormon Lake is more a marsh than a lake. When full, after the spring snowmelt, it is the largest “natural” lake in Arizona. Although there is no dam (in contrast with Upper and Lower Lake Mary), humans have still influenced the lake. The area was first settled by Mormons, who started dairy farming here.

In the pioneer days, the lake area was never more than a marsh, and the settlers ran cattle on the rich forage. Eventually, the hooves of the cattle compacted the soil and made it less porous, so that the marsh flooded and became a lake in wet years. Today, the lake and its marshes are important havens for wildlife. This hike is best done at sunrise or sunset, which are good times for wildlife viewing. Cottonwood and aspen trees grow here in an unusual association, and there are fine views of the distant San Francisco Mountain."

Activity Type: Hiking
Nearby City: Flagstaff
Distance: 6.4
Elevation Gain: Minimal
Trail Type: Out-and-back
Skill Level: Easy
Duration: Day hike
Season: Best spring through fall
Accessibility: Dog-friendly
Local Contacts: Mormon Lake Ranger District; Coconino National Forest
Local Maps: USGS Mormon Lake; Coconino National Forest
Driving Directions: Directions to Mormon Lake

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May 2018